Freezing temperatures and a Patriots game against Denver may have lowered turnout just slightly at Sunday night's Downtown Bristol Merchants Association's Snowflake Raffle, but more than a thousand people still showed up for a chance to win up to $3,000, according to Association member, Lynn Shaw.
Prior to the 5 pm drawings for one of eight prizes, patrons were entertained by the Bristol County Chorus and . There was also a balloon artist, and hot chocolate galore to warm the hearts and stomachs of those present.
Santa arrived by fire truck a little after his scheduled time of 4:30 pm and by 5 pm, the crowd had grown to fill the lower half of State Street between Hope and Thames, surrounding the stage and packing the sidewalks.
was the lucky winner of the $500 non-profit prize. Sandra Tolley was there to represent the Food Pantry, and said she was thrilled that the money could be used to feed more needy families.
There were a few close calls for winners of the other prizes.
Lisa Silva thought she won one of the $500 cash prizes, but discovered she was off by two numbers. She later returned to the stage when she had the winning ticket for one of the gift baskets.
Rosemarie Ricks had a ticket numbered 50818, and the first winning ticket for the grand prize of $3,000 was numbered 50808. No one claimed the win, so a second ticket was drawn for the grand prize.
Ricks' friend Kathy Sullivan laughed as she said, "Almost only counts in hand grenades and horse shoes!"
The grand prize was then claimed by Bristol residents Ed and Diane Iannuccilli. The Iannuccillis dine regularly at and received their winning ticket from that restaurant.
Ed Iannuccilli said he'd had a feeling they were going to win when they were on their way to the raffle, and the two plan to donate their prize money.
"I'm still trying to realize that we won it," said a shocked Diane Iannuccilli, "but I have a few thoughts about giving to some charities locally."
One of the $1,000 ticket holders, Marie LaRochelle, owns . Unable to participate for herself, she was looking after a ticket for an out-of-town client who had bought a gift certificate for his mother for Christmas.
Rochelle was ecstatic at the thought that the mom will be receiving both the gift certificate and a check for $1,000 on Christmas morning.
Master of ceremonies, Tony Morettini, again kept everyone entertained during mostly brief lulls between winners, making jokes about the crowd occupying State Street, and leading them in songs and chants of "ho, ho, ho".
"We are the one hundred percent of people here tonight," jested Morettini.
After half the crowd dispersed between the grand prize drawing, and the gift basket drawings, Morettini resorted to some desperate measures, attempting to find a winner for the last gift basket.
"I'll start drawing numbers two at a time, and the first one up here wins!" Morettini said.
When the final winner yelled an assent, the crowd burst into loud applause, and congratulated Jeanne Rodrigues, a recently retired nurse, who said she'll find "someone nice" to gift the yoga basket to.
After the final prize drawing, the cash winners headed to refreshments and real checks at , and the remaining hardy souls rapidly dispersed.
Here is the complete list of the winners:
$3,000 - Ed and Diane Iannuccilli
$1,000 - Shane Joubert
$1,000 - Marie LaRochelle (for her unidentified client, as we don't want to spoil the surprise)
$500 - Colleen McCarthy
$500 - Grace Steere
$500 non-profit - East Bay Food Pantry & Thrift Shop
Gift Basket donated by Donahue-Noble Real Estate - Lisa Silva
Gift Basket donated by - Jeanne Rodrigues